Justice for Bhopal – Stop Dow Chemicals sponsorship for London Olympics

Dow Chemicals is sponsoring millions of dollars to the London Olympics at the cost of the lives of 25,000 people who died inhaling the poisonous gas on the 3rd of December 1984 in Bhopal, India. Union Carbide, the company responsible for the mishandling of the large tanks containing the poisonous pesticide methyl isocyanate, is currently owned by Dow Chemicals. The organizations fighting for justice complained that they have received only 15% of the actual compensation they deserve. Union Carbide paid a part compensation of $470 mn. in 1989 after bowing down to the enormous pressure from activists and partly the Indian Government.

The compensations received then were based on the incorrect numbers presented by the Indian government, which has been constantly pestered by the organizations demanding justice. The official website for Justice in Bhopal mentions that the compensation received considered 5295 deaths but in reality 22,917 deaths have been reported due to the direct effects of the deadly gas. Also only 4902 were listed earlier as permanently disabled which is in complete contrast to the actual number which stands at more than 500,000. No compensation was provided to victims with temporary disability or minor injuries. 

The politicians who have been constantly reminded by the activists to bring the American company to trial have eventually won the attention of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, SS Chauhan joining the protests and asking for a boycott of the Games by India. Bhopal is the provincial capital of Madhya Pradesh. The Indian Government later asked the Indian Olympic Association to raise the issue with the International Olympic Committee. Although the Sports Minister has confirmed that no such action will be taken by the Indian Olympic Association.

Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the Organizing Committee for the London Olympics has insisted that the organisers will go ahead with the sponsorship deal. This statement created a massive hatred for Seb Coe in Bhopal and his effigies were burnt.

This is not the first time Dow Chemicals have been accused of playing dirty games. In its ugly past they produced napalm for the United States government during the Vietnam War and have also been responsible for leaking of poisonous plutonium in America for which they were sued. They have multiple sites in USA which are harmful and are labelled as dangerous owing to Dow Chemicals dirty activities. The 10 year deal with the Olympic Committee means Dow Chemicals will supply its chemical to the organizers for construction raising millions of dollars.

Five leading groups who have been responsible for keeping the fight alive have held numerous rallies across the city and the state capital Delhi. The most recent rally was the ‘Rail Roko Andholan’ (Stop the Trains Movement) which was highly successful when the protesters stopped all trains passing through Bhopal which lies in the heart of the 1.3bn population country.

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